"Is he sick? Yes," Jean Becker said in an e-mail to Bush's many friends. "Does he plan on going anywhere soon? No. He has every intention of staying put."
Becker added of Bush: "He would ask me to tell you to please 'put the harps back in the closet.'"
Bush, 88, is in intensive care at Houston Methodist Hospital, battling a persistent fever and bronchial problems.
The 41st president was healthy enough to issue a statement Thursday night on the death of Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., calling the 1991 Iraq war leader "a true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation."
In her e-mail about Bush's health, Chief of Staff Becker wrote:
"Yes, President Bush is in ICU where he is getting the best medical care in the world. We know you all have great doctors/hospitals where you live, but I can assure you that the health care he is getting at Methodist Hospital in Texas Medical is unequaled anywhere. ...
"Will he be in the hospital for a while? Yes. He is 88 years old, he had a terrible case of bronchitis which then triggered a series of complications.
"Is there anything you can do? Yes, of course. Keep him and the family in your prayers. I am thinking heaven has not seen such a barrage of prayer intentions since 'It's a Wonderful Life.'
"I hope you all know how much your love, concern, and support are appreciated."
(Copyright © 2012 USA TODAY)